Rome’s First Triumvirate 60 B. C. E. – 53 B. C. E

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Rome’s First Triumvirate

  • 60 B.C.E. – 53 B.C.E

  • By: Jim Ellis


  • To better gain an understanding of the political and social history of the world we live in, it is important for middle school world history students to be introduced to cultures other than their own. By introducing the students to these ancient world cultures they can begin to gain a better understanding of the current world they live in and how it progressed to its current state.

Grade Level

  • I will be teaching this lesson to seventh grade world history students.

Content Standard

  • Grade 7: World Studies: Ancient Times to 1750

  • In the seventh grade students begin the four-year historical sequence with a study of the ancient world. This study includes not only history but incorporates each of the other six standards into the chronology. Students learn that each historic event is shaped by its geographic setting, the culture of the people, economic conditions, governmental decisions and citizen action. Students also expand their command of social studies skills and methods.


  • The seventh grade world history students will:

  • Identify the members of Rome’s first triumvirate with 100% accuracy.

  • Explain the personal qualities of each ruler in the triumvirate, as well what each member had to gain by forming the triumvirate.

  • Identify how the triumvirate was unique and important in the evolution of Roman society and life.

  • Prepare a one page analytical paper discussing the importance of the triumvirate in Roman history and what effect, if any, the triumvirate had on the future of Rome and its governance.

  • Based upon the criteria and examples discussed in class, each student must construct a model of Caesar and his army crossing the Rubicon River and returning home to Rome.

  • Support or refute the idea that Rome’s first triumvirate rule was a pivotal turning point in the direction of Roman rule and history.

What is a Triumvirate?

  • Tri-um-vi-ratea government of three officers or magistrates functioning jointly.

Members of the Triumvirate

  • Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus – “Pompey the Great” (106-48 BCE)

  • Marcus Licinius Crassus – (112-53 BCE)

  • Gaius Julius Caesar – “Julius Caesar” (100-44 BCE)

Who Were These Men?

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus “Pompey the Great”

  • Pompey, who lived from 106-48 BCE, was a general in the Roman army under the rule of Sulla. When Sulla died in 78 BCE Pompey took this opportunity to ask the Senate for a series of special high commands so he could deal with the revolts that were plaguing the Republic at that time. Pompey quickly dealt with the many problems plaguing Rome while all the time gaining more Senate approved powers. In 70 BCE Pompey joined forces with the newly elected Consul, (and future triumvirate member), Crassus. Before Pompey joined the triumvirate he single-handedly redrew the map of the Eastern Mediterranean by developing new cities through conquest. Pompey, through his victories had increased Rome’s annual income by 70 percent.

Marcus Licinius Crassus

  • Crassus was know in late Republic as Rome’s richest man. Though not born into a life of money, Crassus gained much of his wealth through greedy schemes by becoming the cities greatest landlord. Crassus used this money to support political ambitions, which lead to his being appointed Consul in 70 BCE. Crassus’s biggest military achievement was his defeat of Spartacus and the slave revolt in 71 BCE. Crassus, had joined forces in 70 BCE with Pompey, and would eventually help form Rome’s triumvirate by 60 BCE.

Gaius Julius Caesar

  • Caesar, who was a military genius, was elected Consul in 59 BCE with the help of his triumvirate friends, Pompey and Crassus. Today Caesar is one of the most celebrated figures in all of Roman history. Caesar is known most notably for his impressive victories in Gaul, (modern-day France). Caesar remained in Gaul for seven years during his conquests which began shortly after his being elected Consul in 59 BCE. By the end of his conquests in Gaul, Caesar had gained a huge section of land for the Roman Republic stretching from the Pyrenees mountains in modern-day Spain and the Atlantic coast to the Rhine river of modern-day Germany.

The Triumvirate

  • With the alliance of Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar in 60 BCE Rome’s first triumvirate was born. Immediately following the formation of the triumvirate Caesar left to conquer Gaul for the next seven years leaving Pompey and Crassus to govern much of the Republic. Together the three rulers controlled most of the Roman military. Crassus, wanting to further his name and status, left to conquer Syria but was killed in 53 BCE. With the death of Crassus as well as Pompey’s wife, who happened to be Caesar’s sister, the triumvirate disintegrated into a two man alliance. Finally in 52 BCE with Caesar still in Gaul, Caesar’s enemies persuaded the Senate to declare Caesar a “public enemy” and asked Pompey to “save the Republic” The alliance of Pompey and Caesar was now in serious disarray. The civil war that was to follow would prove to be a great power struggle between Pompey, Caesar, and the Senate, which there could be only one winner.

Civil War and the fall of the republic

  • As the civil war began Caesar and his army marched on Rome. While crossing the Rubicon river which served as the northern boarder of Italy Caesar declared, “the die is cast,” meaning, there was no turning back. Caesar easily swept to victory over the Senatorial army lead by Pompey in 48 BCE, and completely destroyed them in 45 BCE. Also in 45 BCE Pompey was stabbed to death while coming ashore in Egypt as he fled the wrath of Caesar. Caesar was now the sole ruler of Rome, and by 44 BCE Caesar had declared himself. “dictator for life.” That same year Caesar life was cut short as he was assassinated by sixty Senators fearing his grip on power. The assassination of Caesar was the first assassination of a head of state in Rome in eighty-nine years and would signal the start of the pattern of political scandal and murder. The Republic was now dead and the age of the Emperor was in place, Rome would stay much the same until the demise of the Western Empire in 476 CE.

Learning Center Guidelines

  • Students can use the learning center during the last fifteen minutes of class each day, lesson permitting, and throughout the period if they have shown that all other work has been completed. I will manage their use by keeping a record of who has accessed the center and for what period of time, to accomplish this each student must sign their name, the date, and the time the entered and left the center before and after each visit. The students will be allowed to use the center as much as they like as long as their work is completed and the lesson for the day has been completed. The students will get instructional feedback from the teacher as they are using the center and by completing and scoring the worksheets located in the learning center.

Assorted Pictures of Ancient Rome

(Flavian Amphitheater) Coliseum

Coliseum Interior

Imperial Fora

Trajan's Column detail of Tiber river warf

Basilica Julia: overview looking South

The Pantheon

Various Ancient Rome Websites

  • Julius Caesar Website


  • Welcome To The Romans Page


  • Ancient Rome


  • Feminae Romanae: The Women of Ancient Rome


  • Ancient Rome: Images and Pictures


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